We’re all well aware of how Google uses self-manufactured loopholes in the DMCA safe harbor to enrich itself at the expense of artists, and run their loophole traps while appearing to “help” artists deal with the Google manufactured whackamole on YouTube with “tools” like Content ID. (See Ellen Seidler’s teaching on this subject, Kerry Muzzey’s post about Content ID from an artist perspective, and Zoe Keating’s statements on the YouTube Content ID shakedown.)
What Google has also done is find someone out there who is willing to promote the corporate line on DMCA abuse, the Chief Loophole. This person very likely gets paid a fortune in both cash and stock options to be the public face of Google’s destructive policies. Or at least a fortune compared to the person’s former colleagues in the copyright category that Google is commoditizing and extracting value from with their loophole seeking behavior.
Google then spends money on a charm offensive directed at these former colleagues—but which falls short of providing the same wealth that they bestowed on the Chief Loophole. They may have many reasons for keeping this class distinction in play, but the message is clear—if you truly go over to the dark side, beaucoup bucks await you. Or it will seem like beaucoup bucks to you because Google’s loophole seeking beat you down so far it looks like up to you.
Yes, I’m describing Lyor Cohen at YouTube and Richard Gingras at Google’s Internet of Other People’s News. Rather than embrace a rights-affirming and privacy-protecting philosophy, these two divisional Chief Loopholers shore up two of the principal sources of Google’s data wealth—news and music.
Lyor Cohen embarrassed himself to little effect as the face of YouTube’s assault on the European Copyright Directive. Mr. Gingras is doing the same in what promises to be the opening act of a long offensive against the European Copyright Directive.
The Copyright Directive has been passed by a vote of the European Parliament and transposed into French law by a vote of the Parliament of France—which the multinational Big Tech bloc like Google lost abysmally by employing a bot strategy that seemed to be modeled on the tactics of the Internet Research Agency as discovered by several European newspapers including the London Times.
The crux of the issue for Mr. Gingras is that the Copyright Directive requires Google to pay a neighbouring rights royalty to newspapers whose work they use. You may have heard the Google Alinsky-style semantical talking point of the “link tax”.
Google is now putting Mr. Gingras forward to be the Lyor-style face of its campaign against journalists and news organizations in France by throwing a new loophole in the face of the French government while at the same time stepping up its charm offensive by offering what certainly look like bribes to news organizations in Europe that play ball.
The loophole is Google’s use of its brutal market power to force newspapers to give them for free that which would otherwise attract essentially a statutory royalty. Mr. Gingras is the face of this, a role for which we hope he’s being at least as well compensated as Lyor Cohen for doing what is effectively the same job—being the face of the charlatan. The good news is that Google tipped their hand early in the transposition process so even France can go back and fix this competition law violation.
Thanks to the Google Transparency Project (full report here) we know that Mr. Gingras also brings a pot of gold to his version of the rainbow, either directly or indirectly, through spending on the ideation and flaring from the shill incubator:
The Google Transparency Project undertook the most comprehensive effort yet to collect all of Google’s payments to media organizations around the world in one place. The analysis included 16 different Google programs and related organizations and spanned more than a decade.
It revealed that Google and related entities have committed between $567 million and $569 million to support at least 1,157 media projects around the globe. The analysis also identified another 170 projects supported by Google for which no funding information was publicly available, suggesting that the total amount the company has spent on media grants is likely far higher.
Google often boasts about its support for journalism, disclosing plans to spend over half a billion dollars on media initiatives since 2013. But Google isn’t always transparent about its spending, making it difficult to assess what the company is giving—and what it may be getting in return.
We haven’t seen Mr. Cohen waiving around this kind of cash aside from a few thousand euro we know about that was paid to some YouTube “creators” to produce anti-copyright directive materials.
Lyor really needs to do something about that disparity. We’re way beyond YouTube “creator” studios now—user-generated never got hundreds of millions. I wonder what Mr. Gingras makes by comparison to Mr. Cohen?